by Johanna & Gregor Ottolinger, Co- Directors, IHF Bali
After one year and too many memories to count, it is time for us, our 3-year-old son Damian, and our faithful pup Thor to bid farewell to a place we called and considered home. What made it so was not so much the house nor the wild surroundings of juicy rice fields, lush banana trees, arid volcanoes, and fragrant frangipanis (although that certainly helped!), but rather, the people.
By that, we mean of course first and fore-most the attending children of IHF Buitan, who have – and will always have – a special place in our hearts. We also were lucky to have grown close with the Buitan communities, both Muslim and Hindu, attending a number of family and community events that have granted us a new appreciation of ceremony and devoutness as an intrinsic and elemental part of everyday life. We were likewise grateful to have welcomed a number of exceptional Bali volunteers and sponsors, who brought massive joy to their sponsor children and classes, and whose visits are still mentioned weeks and months afterwards. Many of you we look forward to see again in our homes of Europe and New York soon.
We held a farewell party for the children and were touched by their sincere gestures of affection and gratitude, demonstrated in part by letters, but also by profusely smearing the cake frosting on our faces! Big mess, great fun!
We’d like to take this opportunity to extend a big thank you to IHF, its volunteers, staff and sponsors, the local community of Buitan and the greater Manggis – Bug Bug area, and a special thanks to the amazing children at IHF for making our experience so rich and unforgettable. Thank you!